Tag Archive: benji clements


10606297_674715675957087_5120512786349989203_nAfter a few of weeks with lots of great music covering a diverse range of genres to chose from, things have inevitably quietened down this week. Maybe it is a December thing where people turn their attention to saving money for Christmas, work parties and family celebrations. Then again I never know which of the following is true. Some say that it is harder to get good crowds out for gigs in winter, as people are preoccupied for the reasons I have just given. But in the summer the perception is that people are not going to gigs because it is the season of barbeques and back garden gatherings. I guess that whatever the season if you book the right bands people will make the effort. Recent weeks have shown this to be true so here’s to this week being more of the same.

 

And we are off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with a wonderful array of energetic acoustic music. If you think that acoustic music is the domain of folk club balladry, Arran sweaters and pastoral songs with medieval themes, then this is the show to put the genre firmly on the modern map. Headliners, The Wires, mix high-energy grooves with forays into more bluesy, old school traditions. Also on the bill is Ben Maggs a man who makes engaging, accessible, chart friendly music and Jimmy Moore whose recent album release has seen his musical stock transformed from a good circuit singer-songwriter into a brilliant world-roots act.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, 1000 Planets will be laying out a stall of both original material and covers by the likes of Sisters of Mercy, Killing Joke and Bauhaus. Definitely one for all the old school goths. (I used to be a goth but was thrown out for laughing!)

 

Friday really does have something for everyone, unless of course you think Nikki Minaj is the height of musical eloquence in which case you are beyond help. For everyone else there is the following to choose from. The Victoria is the place to be for something a bit funky as Felix and The Funk (pictured) play a range of Soul, Disco, Pop, Dance and Reggae from the last six decades. The Rolleston has Metalgods, who, as their name might suggest, are a tribute to 80s and 90s rock and metal but apparently steer clear of the standard fare offered by their competitors. At the Riffs Bar Acoustic Session you can find Sam Eason, a hirsute, flame haired, singer-songwriter with a touch of James Taylor, Damian Rice and His Bobness injected into his beautiful and original creations.

 

Those of a more dance orientated persuasion should note that MECA are hosing “Live Music” – a night of Hip-Hop, R’n’ B, House and club anthems from a range of artists such as DJ Longplaya, DJ Eclipse, DJ Mosco and live performances from SN Dubstation, Benji Clements and Hibbz, Young Wilson and many more.

 

The Victoria on Saturday has a very special show, paying tribute to the late great Ian “Jock” Kerr. Not only was Jock a brilliant musician and regular live performer he was also a keen supporter of local music, a regular fixture either side of The Victoria’s bar and someone who brought laughter and no small amount of bemusement to all who came into contact with him. As a tribute to the man, to mark his untimely passing and to raise money for both a headstone and to help support his daughter, I urge anyone who knew him to gather in celebration of “Yer Auld Pal.” The music like the man himself will range from genially boisterous to just plain silly thanks to The Racket, British Harlem and Kova Me Badd.

 

Rock music is also on offer at The Queens Tap with Shepherds Pie who play the best of classic rock from the past 40 years and Lewis Creaven will be offering up blues, retro and southern rock standards at The Rolleston. Those looking for a beautiful noise could do a lot worse than head out to Riffs Bar for a night with Ruff Diamond playing tribute to namesake Neil.

 

Please note that the Peloton gig recently advertised at The Royal Oak is cancelled due to the recent closure of the venue.

 

Two offerings to round the week off are acoustic and electric blends of bluegrass, Cajun and Americana from Sons of The Delta at The Beehive on Sunday and a solo show from David Marx at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

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10325159_553057161469541_2419765703768719527_nA quieter week all round, especially compared to the tsunami of gigs that I was able to report last time, but I guess with the guaranteed matches coming to an end in the World Cup, venues and promoters are no longer cashing in…I mean, celebrating our national sides efforts. In fact by tonight it could all be over. Sport in many ways is a transient thing where as music endures (blimey, that was deep) and although there isn’t masses to choose from this week, there are still a few gems to be had.

 

Something a bit special is happening over at Riffs Bar tonight, especially if you are fans of hip-hop flavoured acoustica with a funky edge as De’Vide roll into town. Those of you who are avid followers of The Voice will have already seen them competing under Jessie J’s patronage in the battle rounds and after a run of major gigs supporting the likes of JLS and Union J and fresh back from tour of Russia, this Ipswich two piece can be found right on your doorstep.

 

Get there early, as the local support slots are a bit special too. Benji Clements will be bringing soulful vocal and funky acoustic guitar work to the table and Charlie Baxter, a man normally found tearing around the stage as part of puzzle-pop band Oui Legionnaires, will be performing solo with what he describes as electro-hippity-hoppity-poppity-rock. If you say so Charlie!

 

It’s Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight as well (hurrah) and it will be starting later due to some sport on the telly box that people seem to be keen on (boo.) Sadly the wonderful James Warner Prophecies have pulled out of the show but there are still two great bands to be had. Headliners British Harlem remind us what great indie guitar bands should sound like, the perfect blend of drive, melody and charisma. Openers Cavalier (pictured) are an alternative rock band up from Guildford and to my mid have a touch of vintage American college rock about them, such as The Gin Blossoms and even the home grown “back of a transit van, cider festival punk” of Mega City Four. What ever it is they sound great.

 

For something a bit more rootsy, Hip Route main man Jim Blair will be entertaining The Beehive with his trademark funky, acoustic, slide guitar blues.

 

Staying at The Beehive for Friday and Port Erin are back. One of the most consistently unique, slick and entertaining bands of recent times, their blend of chilled psychedelia, jazz infused rock and slightly proggy meanderings are a must for anybody looking to hear a truly original band.

 

The acoustic session over at Riffs Bar is filled by Adam Sweet one of the best purveyors of groove laden blues on the circuit today and Leon Daye whose inspirations are taken from a myriad of sources and styles move effortlessly from folk to rock and everything in between.

 

Fans of cover bands have the choice of 50’s standards as Rockabilly Rumble relive the music of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and the like whilst at The Rolleston is The Mike Hoddinott Blue Allstars, a collective of blues-rock players who have worked with virtually everyone in the music business who matter.

 

Rhythm ‘n’ booze legends The Hamsters From Hell at The Rolleston is the place to be on Saturday if you like the idea of punchy, punky blues rock, drunkenness, chaos and ironically some of the finest musicianship around.

 

Reggae fans will want to be at The Victoria for Urban Lions followed by The Shocks of Mighty DJ’ s Erin Bardwell and Jason Hughes spinning classic era ska, reggae and rocksteady.

 

Final options for Wednesday are acoustic troubadour Steve DeGutis who plays The Roaring Donkey but if you are a fan of the “Piano man” himself then head up to the Arts Centre and catch Elio Pace playing the Billy Joel Songbook.

426615_307388412659174_1530646521_nA bit of a Curates Egg for seekers of original music this week and those not familiar with Victorian satire should Google the phrase immediately. If, however, you are one of those people that are content to hear music with an already existing pedigree, then you will have a field day. But, tonight at least, there is something truly original on offer. Songs of Praise at The Victoria is always striving to bring in bands that tick boxes to do with boundary pushing attitudes, uniqueness and fresh sounds and tonight they have excelled themselves.

 

Nudybronque is a band that have built up quite a reputation over the last few years, evolving from a perfectly pleasant punk-pop four-piece to a truly mesmerising experimental indie band and the release of their latest e.p. Moondog merely confirmed them to be a band writing some of the best tunes in their field today. Tonight they are joined by Port Erin, another band who have striven to push the boundaries of their own musical development, these days plying a musical trade of space and atmospherics, subtle dynamics and an almost jazz inflected quality. Opening the show is Oui Legionnaires, a band that almost defies generic pigeonholing instead preferring to invent their own terms such as puzzle-pop and yelpcore. No idea what that means? No, me neither, may it’s best you check them out.

 

Something far more describable is at The Beehive in the guise of Robert Brown, a troubadour whose style falls on the less fey side of Nick Drake and the sweeter edge of Jimmy Page.

 

The big event for Friday is the Ocelot Magazines Eighth Birthday bash at The Victoria. Being a publication with strong connections to the local music scene, you can imagine that they are able to pull in the best bands around and this line-up is a bit of a corker. Headlining is the newly re-emerged Racket, now fully embracing their brit-pop leanings and elevated to a five piece but with all the live swagger and attitude that you associate with the band of old. Vienna Ditto offers a contrasting sheen of wild-eyed rockabilly riffs and sparse, atmospheric electronica whilst looking like collaboration between a mad scientist and a jazz chantress. Boss Cloth brings the noise, as it were, a heavy yet melodic wave of grunged rock riffs and drum dynamics. Opening the night will be Chip Daddy (pictured) a man as well known for his outrageous off stage stunts as he is for his onstage rap parody.

 

Rumbustious…that’s a good word isn’t it? Rumbustious music can be found at The Beehive courtesy of M.O.D. who play Balkan inspired folk using everything from washboards to double bass, harmoniums to clarinets and will be playing songs from last years wonderfully titled Travelling at The Speed of Cattle. If something smoother is called for, Benji Clements will be playing in full band mode at The Royal Oak and the ska and reggae creations of SN Dubstation can be found at The Liquor Lounge.

 

Other options are the rock, blues and swing standards of The Teddy White Band at The Rolleston and classic covers from Switch at The New Inn.

 

On Saturday, Level 3 features a night of music in memory of DJ, radio presenter and all round good egg, Tom Humber who sadly passed away a year ago. As a devoted rock and metal fan he would certainly have approved of the bands paying tribute; melodic trash metallers In The Absence of Light, heavy biker-rock with a dash of Southern charm from Eye For and Eye and Dodging the Bullet playing iconic rock covers. Meanwhile next door at The Rolleston Metal Gods cover similar musical ground and the music of Paul Rogers of Free and Bad Company fame, is being re-visited at The Victoria.

 

Reggae music is being celebrated by The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive and more pop and rock standards can be had from In It For The Money who re-launch the band at Riffs Bar and Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Session re-locate to the bandstand in Old Town Gardens and from 5pm you can have fun in the sun (you never know) with acoustic music from Blake, Rob Beckinsale and as ever your hosts, Mr Love and Justice.

Final mention of the week goes to those dapper acoustic Latin-jazzmen, Gilmore’n’Jaz who play the Roaring Donkey on Wednesday and whom I can’t recommend highly enough.

1488783_10152289534731684_309147990_n….so then I said to my editor, “So what are you going to do, not edit out a whole 170 word introductory paragraph just because you don’t agree with it’s sentiment? As if! And anyone reading the previous paragraph will surely agree with me anyway. Right, enough controversy and on with the musical recommendations and there is lots on offer this week.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria, tonight, is a bit of a deconstructed, alt-pop, leftfield, difficult to describe…thingy, of a show. Vienna Ditto is a two-piece outfit that veer between mesmerising sci-fi blues and dance-rock riffs with added atmospheric and ambient electronica, a bit like Portishead writing a Tarantino soundtrack. Also on the bill are Super Squarecloud, purveyors of warped pop and strange adventures in time signatures, plus The Clementines a newish musical vehicle driven by a whole bunch of people who used to be called Crash and The (Bandi)Coots.

 

More dance vibes emanate from The Beehive when Zetan Spore land their mothership  to spread their cosmic message through the medium of Psy-trance music, an intoxicating blend of psychedelic dance, searing guitars, tribal breaks and a tsunami of energy and positivity.

 

There can’t be many people around that haven’t heard about Shaun Buswell’s Underground Orchestra Challenge, which saw him hire, rehearse and write the music for a full orchestra recruited from commuters on the underground. Before the show heads off to the Edinburgh Fringe you have a chance to experience his PowerPoint style presentation of the whole project at The Wyvern Theatre. You also get free entry into the Indisposition of David Philips which is showing directly afterwards as part of Madame Renard’s Mini Fringe Festival.

 

Friday brings in a couple of acoustic offerings, firstly at Riffs Bar where the sometimes floating, sometimes buoyant, but always impressive music of Rob Lear is sharing the night with the similarly joyous, spiritual and absorbing Real Raj. If you prefer to stay in the heart of town then The Regent’s Acoustic Circus will feature Jimmy Moore, Benji Clements and The Crown Jewels.

 

Elsewhere NewQuay Times bring low-slung Americana to The Queens Tap and Ode and The Bebops will be attempting to answer the age-old question “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on The Bedpost Overnight?” through the medium of audience participation skiffle at The Victoria. Louder options come in the shape of slick ska from The Nomarks at The Beehive and the masters of mayhem, riotous rhythm and boozy blues, The Hamsters From Hell will be laying waste to The Rolleston and it’s near vicinity.

 

If you are of the heavy rock and metal persuasion then there is only one place for you to be on Saturday as a host of bands line up for an all-dayer at Basement 73. Metal is the main order of the day with Malefice, Sleep Inertia, Harmony Disorder and many more satisfying the needs of the pure metalhead whilst some variation comes from the dark, post-punk of Strength in Blunders, the grungier edge of Burnthru and Boss Cloth, the cross genre blends of The Damned and The Dirty and impressive alt-rock of All Ears Avow.

Apart from that it is all slightly less boundary pushing with The Victoria hosting a tribute to AC/DC, The Ashford Road Club featuring the songs of Adele, The Great Nothing playing rock covers at The Queens Tap and Built For Comfort treating The Rolleston to some Chicago blues classics.

 

If you want to get out and get some fresh air on Sunday then a stroll to the bandstand in the Old Town Gardens will reward you with something a bit special. Skins and Strings (pictured) are a two-piece instrumental set up who mix the exotic sound of tabla drums with pastoral acoustic guitar, the perfect musical blend of orient and occident.

 

Similarly exotic sounds can be found at The Check Inn in Wroughton with the Latin infused, acoustic jazz of Gilmore’n’Jaz. If something more “in your face” as the youth of today might say, is required then the fired up, electric blues standards of The Lewis Creavan Band at The White Hart might be the answer.

 

Finally the musical week ends in perfect fashion at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with another outing for Benji Clements whose skilful and soulful blends of groove-laden and funky standards and originals is a great way the to take your mind off of the midweek blues.

600x600In an effort to keep up with the mainstream side of the music industry I tentatively watched the BRITs last week. I know that I’m far from the target audience but dear me what a disaster. Firstly, how can James Corden, a man who could teach Robbie Williams a thing or two about being smug, be the best presenter available? Not only did he look so far out of his depth, his interviews came across like a petulant college kid talking to inarticulate show-offs against the background chatter of an audience too busy taking “selfies” to pay attention. And why was Ellie Goulding singing backwards…in Finnish? The most edgy thing to happen was Alex Turner dropping the microphone, a feat that twitter users seemed to find on par with Keith Moon blowing up his drum kit (and himself and Pete Townsend) at their US TV debut. How times have changed.

This was, however, balanced by the watching of the BBC folk awards later that night, a genre inhabited by rugged, real ale drinking blokey blokes and flame haired Celtic beauties. Throw in Mark Radcliffe hosting, some virtuosic live music and a general feeling of celebration, decorum and mutual support and you actually got to see what an award ceremony should be about.

And if you are looking for something cool as folk, then The Victoria tonight is the place, as Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra blend the genre with gypsy jazz, Cajun, ragtime and country roots. Support is from the ever popular Missin’ Rosie…heads down, no nonsense, mindless folk music! And if you want a more Euro-centric take on the genre then The John Langan Band (pictured) at The Beehive provides the answer – high energy, extravagant and slightly unhinged acoustic playing of a joyous mix of polka, klezmer and Celtic folk traditions.

If you fancy making your own music then pop along to The Patriots Arms in Chiseldon for an open mic. night hosted by Jimmy and Aidan Moore (no relation.)

Friday delivers more of the tried and tested rather than the boundary pushing but you won’t find a better classic rock cover band around than Bad Obsession who play The Rolleston. Tributes are also on the cards with the music of ZZ Top at The Victoria and Boot Led Zeppelin at Riffs Bar delivering an acoustic take on the legendary band.

If you didn’t catch them at their open mic. earlier in the week and you want more of Moore and Moore (no relation) then they are part of a fundraising evening at The GW on Saturday which also features the soulful acoustica of Benji Clements and the sweet moreish sounds of Remedy. Need I say more?

If high energy music is your preference then catch guitarist Jamie Thyer as he leads his Worried Men through R’n’B standards at The Rolleston on Saturday whilst at The Castle, it’s time to grab your Crombie and pork pie hat for The Nomarks and their ska and reggae originals.  You could even combine this with the short walk down to The Beehive where the Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning similar genres.

The Victoria has Syntronix, a tribute to eighties synth pop and at the other end of the scale it’s all about bringing Pearl Jam back to life Riffs Bar. Support to that comes from a re-union show from Tiryth, a metal band who must have been away from the scene for a decade at least.

Proving that Sunday doesn’t have to be the day of rest, more heavy music is to be had from two South Wales post-hardcore bands When We Were Wolves and Set To Break at The Victoria.  Not your thing? Why not head to The White Hart for a slick slice of soul grooves and funky R’n’B with Otis Mack and The Tubby Bluesters maybe after catching the 3am porch blues picking of David Bristow at The Beehive afternoon session.

Baker Streets regular Tuesday jazz offering comes in the form Portuguese guitarist Miguel Martins who delivers a neat line in contemporary playing mixed with a more traditional jazz legacy. For this show the regular quartet is augmented by renowned tenor sax player Brandon Allen.

Final acoustic offerings on Wednesday come in the form of Drew Bryant at The Roaring Donkey and bluesman Ian O’Regan and Darren Hodge at The Crown, the latter who you may also have spotted on the aforementioned BBC folk awards.

Seamlessly full circle or what?

1391831_677809382238663_1004792238_n

January is always a difficult time to try to get people along to gigs, well, at least the sort of gigs that I go to. But it got me thinking about just how important a crowd is to a musical event. Sure, everyone wants their band to be able to pull in the numbers but really, as with many thing…size doesn’t actually matter. You can still make history without an audience. How many people saw The Sex Pistols at The Lesser Free Trade Hall, the gig that took punk beyond its London art college roots….about 40? (Although I have personally met about 120 people who claim to have been there.) There were only 12 people at the last supper, well, thirteen to begin with. Half that number witnessed the Wright Brothers first flight and Archimedes was alone in his bath when he made his greatest discovery. No, not soap on a rope!

 

It’s not the size of the crowd, it’s the power of the event, so do something brave, original, extravagant, boundary pushing and truly entertaining. Something that people will take notice of. Write your own footnote in the music history book. Do something new; don’t just copy what has gone before. Who wants to live in a world that runs on plagiarism?  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…errr, hang on!

 

Anyway, a quiet week but here it is.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight has a bit of a vicious edge. Strength In Blunders headline, a three piece sitting on the cusp of punk traditions and new wave experimentation, more Husker Du or Magazine than first wave Brit punk. Support comes from Honesty a band evolved from Frome’s riotous assembly, Haters…remember them? And opening up the night are local alt-rockers Tides of Change.

 

A couple of wonderfully original shows are on offer on Friday. Firstly at The Victoria, The Shudders grace the stage with their musically eloquent combinations of alt-country, lo-fi rock and wonderfully melodic and infectious tunes.  Support is from El Born (pictured), an evocative, heart on sleeve, London, alt-rock band just heading out on a UK tour and offering a Café Nero style loyalty card leading to free gig entry. Interesting! Opening the night is looping, electric guitarist Johnny Lucas who you may remember from his summer anthem Lilo, a song that would even have the most stalwart Goths taking off their nu-rocks and playing Frisbee on the beech.

 

Over at Riffs Bar Benji Clements will be playing his trademark mashed up and funked out standards and originals, an artist who does a neat line in sassy soul and bluesy acoustic grooves. Also on the bill is Ella Martini a young singer with an equally soulful pop vibe.

 

The next part of the column is what I call the “that was then…and this is then as well” section, as everything on offer is a cover of or a tribute to something that you are probably already familiar with. So in brief, also on Friday at The Rolleston regular fixtures The Great Nothing offer a wide range of iconic rock tracks from across the years, followed by Dodging The Bullet the next day who play classic rock covers.

 

At The New Inn on Saturday you can catch punky-ska classics from Operation 77 and at The Victoria there are tributes to Hendrix and Cream.

 

And that is it apart from a solo appearance from David Marx (minus his regular AK-Poets) at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. A wealth of songs that you might not get to hear from the full band show, interspersed with stories and humour. Not a bad way to round the music week off if you ask me, and in a way by reading this article you did ask me. So there!

 Nice to see some national exposure for the vocal talents of local musician Benji Clements.

936668_10151582452128891_1408839903_nIt seems a bit of a quieter week all round, but then I have had a bit of a problem gathering information as of late. Without going into specifics, here is a radical idea for venues, promoters and bands – tell people about your event! Better still, tell people like me who can get the information out to thousands of people, In the words of Werhner von Braun, “it’s not rocket science” (pause until the sound of a wave of people googling him dies down.)

 

Tonight sees the very welcome return of an artist that Swindon has taken to it’s heart, Louise Latham. Blending an ethereal voice with emotive piano lines, the result is a wonderful dream pop soundscape and a collection of songs that already sound like classics. She is joined by the soulful acoustica of Benji Clements and Friends and the delicate and heartfelt creations of Drew Bryant. All that takes place under the Songs of Praise banner at The Victoria tonight.

 

A couple of people have told me that I need to check out The Darwin Republic, so I did, well, I tried to. Unfortunately, as if to ram home the point of my opening paragraph, at the time of submitting this article there was no information about them on the venue website and they appear to have no on-line presence, though I can’t decide if that is a clever campaign of deliberate mystique and anti-marketing or just lack of promotion. Though I can say that if you go to The Beehive tonight you will almost definitely….find them there.

 

No questions about the calibre of the band playing The Beehive on Friday though. Port Erin are one of those bands that genuinely challenge the listener to pigeon hole them, which is something I admire in a band. They manage to meander through jazz vibes, trippy funk workouts, rock drives and wrap them up in a chilled, unified groove. The Rolleston offers rockabilly in the form of The Corsairs and elsewhere it is covers and tributes all the way with Peleton playing mod, ska and soul at The Victoria and The Floydian Doors at The Castle paying tribute to…well, I’m sure you can work it out.

 

If you want to get out into the fresh air on Saturday (weather permitting) and take in some great music then the place to be is at The Old Town Bowl where The Reggae Garden brings you the best of the genre from midday. Macca B, Solo Banton and Murray Man all front their respective bands plus you can catch local rocksteady outfit, The Erin Bardwell Collective and a host of other acts.

 

The Arts Centre has a bit of a treat for you as no less than ex-Yes guitar shaman Steve Howe pays a visit. But prog fans be warned, this isn’t going to be a  note perfect rendition of Tales From Topographic Oceans, although some of the back catalogue is revisited, as the band explore jazz and country swing alongside the more expected numbers.

 

Pretty much at the opposite edge of the spectrum, dirty rhythm and blues is on offer at The Queens Tap. Looking like a cast of villains from The Sweeney and sounding like Dr Feelgood and The Blockheads fighting in a back alley, The Hamsters From Hell have become local legends for their ability to entertain and offend in equal measure. Crimes against songwriting are also being considered.

 

The rest of Saturday comes in the shape of Hypermused, a tribute to Teignmouth’s most famous alt-rock trio and at The Rolleston, Kok Rok will be setting their tongues firmly in their cheeks and performing the best of classic rock.

 

If harp driven Chicago R’n’b is your sort of thing then get down to The Beehive on Sunday for the afternoon session with Built For Comfort. (Note to younger readers – a harp is what bluesman call the harmonica and r’n’b was a sub-genre of rock and roll before it was applied to lip synching girl bands wiggling to landfill pop tunes, so don’t turn up expecting Little Mix with a classical string section.)

 

And finally on to Wednesday and the usual great offerings from the two midweek acoustic shows. The Running Horse goes blues with established local blues guitar aficionado Ian O’Regan and uber-talented new kid on the block Adam Sweet.

 

 

Meanwhile The Roaring Donkey has the wonderful Chalice, a folk band that brings the sound of the 60’s folk revival bang up to date. Imagine the Albion Band with Court and Spark era Joni Mitchell guesting and you get an idea of why you need to check this band out.

p01c318fApparently everyone remembers where they where when Kennedy was assassinated. Similarly everyone remembers where they were when they first heard of the attack on the World Trade Centre. On a more parochial level, everyone with at least a passing interest in Swindon’s music scene remembers where they were when they heard that Dave and Anna were selling the Victoria. But after months of speculation (for a while people almost had me convinced that I had bought it!) it appears that not only is the venue in safe hands under the captaincy of Darren and Violet, but it is very much business as usual.

I’m sure I speak for pretty much all of the local music scene when I say a very big thank you to Dave and Anna for making The Victoria the success story that it is, supporting all genres of music, from local to international, original, covers and tributes (we’ll gloss over the karaoke bit!) and generally making the place one of the corner stones of the town’s music scene. On a more personal note, thank you for giving ideas such as Songs of Praise and The Swindon Shuffle a chance back when they were the mere ramblings of a drunken promoter on the back of a cigarette packet. (Not me, another rambling, drunken promoter.) See you guys at the bar sometime, there’s a few drinks on me, or you…whatever!

Right, to business. Tonight provides a wealth of acoustic acts across a couple of venues. The regular Acoustic Buzz night at The Beehive  has the world weary, heartfelt, country laments of Boss Caine, the more perky upbeatness (that is a word, I looked it up) of Jane Allison plus your regular host in the form of Blind River Scare.

Meanwhile back at the aforementioned Victoria the top bar has some very strong competition from the musical dexterity and diverse sounds of Nick Felix, Ben McDanielson, Benji Clements and Jimmy Moore.

Bit of a bluesy edge going in to Friday, firstly with Gwyn Ashton at The Beehive, a man that not only reproduces the sounds of pre-war delta blues with authenticity and attention to detail but who probably has Mississippi mud flowing through his veins instead of the usual red stuff. Jim Blair’s trademark funky blues lap guitar playing and whiskey cracked vocals can be found at The Rolleston. Coldplay fans can get their fix at The Victoria with Coolplay (I see what they did there) plus The Sleeves who will get the night started with a selection of modern indie classics.

Saturday brings a bit of a treat and it’s nice to see original, local, contemporary music being given an airing at The Old Town Bowl’s Garden Party, not that I have anything against Tight Fit and Modern Romance but …no, let’s not open that can of worms again! The line up provides another outing for the soulful acoustic groove of Benji Clements, Billyjon’s smooth balladry, see’s Jim Blair in full band mode with Hip Route, has the soaring, anthemic rock of False Gods and is topped of with AJ Live and A & T. Definitely something for everyone there.

Back indoors there is more great music to be had. At The Rolleston in a last minute substitution for Hot Flex, ex-pat, David Marx brings in his latest incarnation of The AK Poets, playing melodically explosive, high octane, rain ‘n’ napalm licks; a rock and roll band that does what it says on the tin.

That dapper chap about town, Gig Monkey has a bit of coup in bringing Bite The Buffalo (pictured) to The Victoria. Fuzzy, heavy grooved rock ‘n’ roll that immediately transports you to a smoke hazed, backstreet drinking dive in Ladbrook Grove at 3am sometime in 1968. Support comes from Tommaso Galati and his punk attitude, acoustic guitar attacks and 2 piece grunge noise merchants Boss Cloth.

Sunday brings you something a bit more suited to the day of rest. Tim Graham and Robin Grey set out again to combine their love of folk music and cycling to bring Pedalfolk back to The Central Library for a second time. If you like innovative yet unfussy acoustic music this is the place to be. It is also the place to be to experience the quiet majesty of Rumour Shed and the retro folk jangle of Mr Love and Justice.

As usual the week jumps along to Wednesday and the twin acoustic session that now vie for your beer money. At The Running Horse is Ali Finneran and Rachel Austin and the Roaring Donkey provides a second opportunity to catch the romanticism and dark lyrical undercurrents of Billyjon.

eFestivalsI’m not sure if it is just a Swindon thing but it does seem that every other gig you see advertised these days features some earnest young acoustic guitar wielding wannabe aiming to be the next Frank Turner or Laura Marling. It may seem like an easy way to get into music; low overheads, no egotistical band mates to fight with, the ability to tour the country in a broken down Fiat Uno etc but the problem with so much of it going on is that for every soon to be discovered darling of 6music or Wychwood Festival there are a dozen chancers waxing not so lyrical about their recent break ups over a rudimentary knowledge of the key of A minor and clumsily rhyming June with moon.

Thankfully if you want a master class in how it should be done, all you have to do is head to The Victoria tonight when the prodigal son returns, sort of. Songs of Praise is being headlined by Gaz Brookfield, aided and abetted by his fiddle-wielding associate, Ben Wain. Fresh from another jaunt supporting The Levellers and about to share a stage with those emotionally battered, wind swept rock gods, New Model Army (yes, I’m a bit of a fan), I suggest you catch him whilst he is still cheaper than a pint of beer, because it won’t last much longer. Also on the bill is Joshua Caole, who brings a chilled Elliot Smith meets Gram Parsons feeling to the proceedings and kicking things off is the soulful, funky vibe that is Benji Clements.

Two of the musical genres that people have most problems identifying are “world” and “roots” music. If you go to The Beehive tonight you will see both genres colliding head on. Mambo Jambo are an amazing duo that mix Latin styles with bluegrass, jazz and Eastern European sounds – raw enough to sound authentic, virtuosic enough to be mesmerising.

Punks will find much to like over at Riffs Bar on Friday as legendary, urban rail punks Eastfield make a rare visit to this neck of the woods. Three chords, catchy tunes, an often tongue in cheek story and lots of smiles. What’s not to like? The Useless Eaters will be mixing up covers and originals in a tribute to the first wave punk era and opening the night with unforgettable hooks and despondent satire is Strength in Blunders, featuring a guest bassist in the form of Pete Monkey. Nice.

The other big name in town that night is former InMe front man Dave McPherson (pictured) who can be found at The Castle. At a turn uplifting, mournful, calm and soothing, whilst often being a world away from his previous musical vehicle, here is an artist that delivers something very special indeed.

At The Beehive a collection of familiar faces from the local scene, who go by the name The Sitting Tenants will be blending power-pop, new wave, psych and soul into wonderfully original creations, whilst at The Rolleston, The Dylegans take skiffle, country and old school rock and roll as their chosen musical weapons.

Saturday is all about roots music at The Victoria, as Hiproute will be laying out their trademark funked up, acoustic blues stall. Support comes from the quirky, harmony fuelled, folky, surf vibe of Willowen, who I can only describe as being what Noah and The Whale sound like in their own heads, though fall way short of in reality. Delta-esque rockers The Blue Trees and Alex Roberts also add value to the deal. More blues can be found in the guise of Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and it’s slick contemporary covers with Toxic over at The Swiss Chalet.

If you have a craving for electronic music, DJ Dust hosts Digital at Piri Piri, a night of music and videos of that ilk featuring everything from the likes of New order to Chase and Status.

If you want your final fix of music before the working week pulls you back then there are a number of options on Sunday. The afternoon session at The Beehive is taken by The Racket main man Plummie and his new solo venture,  support for that one is The Black Sheep Apprentice himself, Skiddy and the original Sweet Plum, Cat Jamieson. Old school rock’n’roll and rockabilly riffs are to be found at 20 At The Kings with Josie and The Outlaw and if gargantuan slabs of rock with grunge overtones are more your cup of tea (or should I say Seattle Coffee) then the place to be is The New Inn for Vanarin.

Rounding up on Wednesday at The Running Horse you will find bluesman Ian O’Regan and Rhys Bury providing the entertainment.